May 252010

I’m planning to visit Sister in Rwanda soon. So I’ve been spending lots of time trying to convince Craig that it’ll be a perfectly safe trip, mostly by making up stories and statistics that I’ve “read recently.” This is how I prepare most of my opening arguments. When I wanted to get pregnant with Amma, I told Craig that I “read recently” that couples with three children are statistically likely to become filthy rich and also make out ridiculously often. Welcome, Amma!

So I was Skyping with Sister the other day and she mentioned that she was exhausted because she’d spent the whole day interviewing potential guards for her new Rwandan home.

At dinner that night I said to Craig, “Honey, strangest thing. I just read that Rwanda was recently listed on Forbes’ Safest Places for Women to Visit Alone In The Whole Wide World list! Isn’t that great news?” Then I told him about how tired Sister was from all the guard hiring.

Craig ignored the exciting fake Forbes news and said, “Hon, If Rwanda is so safe, why does Sister need to hire a guard?”


I ran upstairs after dinner, Skyped Sister back and said, HEY! If Rwanda is so safe why do you need to hire a guard, anyway??

Sister said, “Well, there’s really no violent crime here, but there is theft, so every compound has a guard on the premises so the house never appears vacant. But it’s mostly for show. The guards don’t even have arms.”


Now over the past few months I have learned that there is a lot about Africa that I just don’t understand. And I have finally accepted the fact that just because something doesn’t make sense to me, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make sense. And so I keep my mouth shut a lot. But I draw the line at armless guards.

“SISTER, WHAT THE HELL? WHAT is your lovely guard going to do if someone DOES try to break in? Bite him? Kick him? Give him a really dirty look? Why don’t you just guard yourself, Sister? At least you have ARMS!!”

Sister was very quiet for a moment.

Then she said slowly. “Um. I meant guns, Sister. The guards do have actual arms, they just don’t carry guns.”

My turn to be a little quiet.

Oh, I said. Ohhhh. Right. I thought maybe it was some sort of “armless affirmative action” program. Not that there would be anything wrong with that, Sister. I mean, if that were the case, I would totally support that program.

I know you would, G, said Sister. I know you would.

Aug 092010

Dedicated to Courtney, whose Journey of a Thousand Hills will end and begin, here. At exactly the right time.


You’ve asked for an update from Sister, and here you are.

She is working hard, very hard, and I know that she’s weary, though she’ll never admit it. I also know that everyday she’s awed by Rwanda’s beauty and her people. I suppose there are worse ways to live than in a constant state of exhausted awe.

I love you, my good and brave Sister. And I’m thrilled that you’ve discovered a place as vibrant and colorful as you are.


Oct 062010

As you know, Sister flew home from Rwanda for a visit last month.

We immediately began a whirlwind of weddings. First, we flew to Ohio to unite with the Kishman clan, Tisha’s family, and celebrate my cousin Allison’s marriage to her love, Troy.

This is The Matriarch, my grandma. We call her “Dama,” but her real name is Alice Flaherty Kishman. You can read about her here. This is Mandy giving her a rosary she bought in France. Listen to me. If you meet Dama, just start talking about rosaries. Or Mother Teresa. Possibly the Pope. Chocolate, perhaps. These are the only safe topics.

I sneaked behind them and took this picture because you guys, THIS IS WHAT DAMA REALLY WATCHES. ALL THE TIME. This is NOT a Saturday Night Live skit. It’s a REAL channel. But I don’t make fun (I mean to her face) because those daily rosaries she says are the only explanation I have for my survival. Pray on, Dama.

This is what Sister and I do. We get ready. And Sister always asks me over and over, “Is this dress too short? Are these heels too high? And I always ask, “Can you see my zits? Will people notice I’ve worn this dress to every event for the last ten years?” And we tell each other… NO, SISTER. YOU LOOK PERFECT. Obviously, the true answer to those questions is always Um, Yeah.

Handsome and Pretty.

You guys, please look at my Mama. I mean, really. This woman just received her first social security check. And no, no surgery. Tisha is proof that the fountain of youth is staying open hearted and loving well. I must admit that I am really very excited about my genes, as is Craig.


The bride, my incredible cousin, Allison – and her Troy.

Yeah. We kept doing this all night.

And of course, There Was Dancing. Well, at least there was some serious flailing.

And then . . . Wedding #2, the following weekend. Meet Mike and his bride Brookie, who has been Sister’s best friend since they were three years old.

Nobody knows why Sister always does this:

During the wedding, Mandy’s friend Hollis gave an incredible toast about sisterhood, and I turned around at my table and shot this picture. Because I knew Sister would be looking at me like this. (What Up, Bums!)

Love you, Sister. Love you, mama. While I was staring at this picture, it struck me that it is possible that Sister and Tisha have their own relationship, independent of me.


While I put together this post, I showed the pictures to Tish. She got a little sad. She misses her aunt. Mostly, she said, because nobody else gives me gum. So we made a paper chain to help us countdown the days ’till Mandy gets back. Yes, I’m in yoga clothes. It is very important to plan a yoga class immediately following art projects with the girls. We made 70 links. 70 days till Aunt Mandy comes home. Which made for a pretty long chain.

When Chase got home from school he said, “Is that thing supposed to make me feel better?” Whatever, Chase, I was trying to do a cute mom thing.

Cant wait ’till we get to this part. Can’t wait.

Peace Out, Lovies. Keep it Real Today.

Love, G